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Good diversity at the workplace
At theTransforming culture in financial services conference held on 19 March 2018, Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA said:
I want to take one very prominent and topical example of good values and culture, namely pursuing and ensuring good diversity at the workplace. I always put forwards 2 arguments within my workplace for why this matters. First, I don’t want, as a matter of personal choice, to work in an environment which is not diverse. It would be dull, and it would be at risk of groupthink. We all need to be challenged, to avoid being set in our ways, and diversity plays an important part in achieving that.
Organisations should bear a reasonably good resemblance to the society we serve
The second argument is that in order to properly understand and represent the public interest, we need as organisations – in the public and private sector – to bear a reasonably good resemblance to the society that we serve.
I would suggest that put like this, such arguments are pretty hard to refute. But, of course, history tells us that we should take nothing for granted, and they have pretty shallow roots. This is another way of emphasising that culture and its values matters, and we should take good care to nurture it. Like most people, I was shocked by events at the Presidents Club. It was a wake-up call – I don’t take good cultural values for granted, don’t assume we live in a society where these things have changed everywhere.
Diversity represents the commitment to equal opportunties to all in society
But there is also a much deeper reason why diversity matters, and why it must be part of our culture, in workplaces and in society. That is because it represents the commitment to equal opportunities to all in society. It doesn’t matter what someone’s background is, what their gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality are. We welcome such diversity of background and character. I am very proud of the consistently strong scores at the FCA in our staff surveys for those questions which ask our staff to assess our performance as a tolerant and open workplace which espouses the public interest. We don’t always get universal acclaim for what we do, but our culture is one of always seeking to serve the public interest. That’s a big part of our culture.
A culture that pursues diversity and equal opportunities is I think one that will have much wider benefits for an organisation.
Targets and measurements have a part to play
One of the important issues in diversity and culture is the use of targets and measurement. I have to say that I have come round more to supporting measurement, targets and transparency as time has gone by, and now I am a fully paid up member.
Why? Predominantly, because I think that otherwise there just isn’t the same incentive to get things done and improve our state. So, we have adopted targets for gender and ethnicity, and we report our gender pay gap, as we should.
But I want to dwell for a moment on the argument that a culture which values and promotes diversity is one that favours equal opportunities in society. There is a deeper point here I think.
A culture that pursues diversity and equal opportunities is I think one that will have much wider benefits for an organisation. It suggests a culture that is open-minded, tolerant, aspiring to improve and considerate. When I look back at the cultures that I have seen where things have gone wrong, those are not descriptive terms that I would employ.
The role of regulation in culture is not to attempt sweeping rules, but rather to use rules and supervision to create the right incentives and to provide tools to diagnose the key characteristics. And, we can prompt and persuade.
The FCA’s Discussion Paper on Transforming Culture in Financial Services was also released this month and covers 4 areas:
- is there a ‘right’ culture in financial services
- managing culture – the role of regulation
- the role of reward, capabilities and environment in driving behaviours
- leading culture change
WiC Comment: Financial Services certainly needs a culture change. Let’s hope the Discussion Paper opens up the debate.